Friday, April 15, 2011

Relations with your syndic

Most French apartments and housing complexes are looked after by professional managers, known as the syndic, who are appointed for periods or one year or longer by the resident owners by vote at the annual general meeting. The syndic is normally aided by a small residents committee and will be responsible for overall day to management of the complex, in such matters as cleaning, maintenance and repairs, and for major expenditure for outside and internal painting, replacement of the lift etc. which occur periodically.

Each owner enjoys the right to occupy his own apartment and generally can decorate or alter any aspect within its four walls, provided this is not prejudicial to the building - such as removing a load bearing wall. Permission will normally have to be sought to alter an outside terrace or balcony, which forms part of the building's 'common parts' of which the owner has exclusive use. This distinction is important, as an owner cannot for example sell is terrace or balcony independently of the apartment, or decide to sublet it it to someone else.

Differences can occasionally arise where one resident is given permission for certain works and another is not, which may leave the dissatisfied owner in conflict with the syndic. In a recent case I have examined, an English resident has been refused permission to lay tiles on his ground floor terrace in what appears to be an exactly similar style to that of two neighbours living in the same complex. The area is currently a mix of pavement and rough ground, in the condition it was left by the developers, and clearly any improvement will enhance the quality of this space not only for its owners but also his neighbours. It is unclear as yet why permission has been refused and arriving at a solution will require an examination of the two previous cases (where permission was given) and the grounds on which the third resident was refused. Apparently only one neighbour is objecting, when normally such permissions are subject only to a majority decision at the annual general meeting and do not require unanimity. It will be an interesting case to follow.